When I first saw [title of show] and heard the song “Die Vampire Die”, it hit such a nerve I sat in the audience gasping, shaking and crying (although trying to keep it as undramatic as possible, which just made me look like a crazy person).
The song starts innocently enough. I’d even describe it as “boppy” and “light” and “fun”:
You have a story to tell, a novel you keep in a drawer.
You have a painting to paint, but you’re lazy like an old French whore.
You have a movie to make, Shrinky Dinks you can bake
but you best grab a stake, cause,
in sweep the vampires, in creep the vampires, knee deep in vampires,
Filling you with doubt. Insecurity, ‘bout what you art should be
in sweep the vampires(…)
a vampire is any person or thought or feeling
that stands between you and your creative self expression,
but they can assume many seductive forms…..
After a few verses, the music stops. It doesn’t stop “bopping”, it just stops. And Susan, who sings the song, takes the smile out of her voice and speaks from her soul and says:
The last vampire is the mother of all vampires and that is the vampire of despair.
It’ll wake you up at 4am to say things like:
“Who do you think you’re kidding?”
“You look like a fool.”
“No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough.”
Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform
and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill asshole,
but if the vampire inside my head says it,
It’s the voice of reason.
Here’s where the sobbing and the shaking and the gasping came in. Thankfully this is when the music starts up again, but although it can still be described as “boppy” it’s heavy at the same time:
You have a story to tell, pull your novel out of that sock drawer!
You have a painting to paint, you best paint it and then paint some more!
Oh baby, you must escape and grab it by the nape of its neck, by the trachea
fuckin’ break it, go on drive a stake in,
Yeah there’s no mistaking, now you’re shake and bakin’
I said, “Die, vampire”
I said, “Now die vam-pi-re, die!”
In fly the vampires, oh my the vampires, then die the vampires,
filling you with life, creativity, all that you heart should be, out go the vampires
Die vampire, die vampire, die vampire, die!
I was at a crossing point in my life then, and I knew these vampires. I was familiar with them in broad daylight as well as by night. They came with me to NYC when I was 18 and stayed with me while I pounded the pavement for 10 years. But it took Susan to make me realize they were there – not only for me, but for every creative person that was trying to find their place in the world. At that point, I felt the pull of my musical theater career (to keep treading along that path and see where I landed, no matter how long or hard the trip was) and the pull of “my life” (the community of friends that surrounded me in NYC, the possibility of financial stability, the chance for a real relationship without the threat of being shipped away or off to sea or to Nothing-But-Cows-Here, USA).
Those vampires made me see that I was holding myself back, and I had to slay them to find my path. I allowed myself to come to terms with the fact that I was no longer cut out for show business (although I am still cut out for shows – just not the business part), and I grieved for that. I grieved for the little girl who started as a bunny rabbit in Snow White and graduated to NYU’s musical theater program, chasing that Broadway stage with all of her might and feeling like she had the support and training behind her to get there. I kissed my 20 year old dream on it’s head and said “You’re not my dream anymore, and that’s OK. It’s time to discover my new dream now. Thanks for making me who I am, and for shaping my life until now. See you later?”
It’s been about 2 years since I first saw [title of show], & I jumped at the opportunity to see it again just a few months ago when it transferred to Broadway. This time, I came prepared with tissues and warnings to those seated around me that sobbing will be coming when The Vampire Song comes on. “Don’t worry about me, though – just a NY actor thing.”
I sat through most of the show, waiting for song to be sung and the tears to come. When the boppiness started, I took out the tissues and got them ready. When the boppiness stopped and the Vampire of Despair was outed, I took a deep breath and shed a lone tear. And that was it. No sobs, no heaves, no shakes. I still felt a connection to the song, but not one deep down in the pit of my stomach – I felt it in my heart.
Looking back, I know it’s because I’m on the right path. Yes, the Pigme Vampire and the Air Freshner Vampire and the Vampire of Despair all rear their ugly heads from time to time (a few even during the writing of this post!) but I’m able to look them in the eye and say
“I know who I am.
I know what I need to do.
And you don’t scare me.
Die, Vampire, Die!”
Are you going to slay your vampire?